Habit-based Language Learning

Walter Freiberg
4 min readNov 30, 2023

This year, I’ve started a new way of helping people learn languages. My language coaching processes are now about building habits and routines. I’ve been doing this for a while, but in 2023, I decided to focus more on it. This article talks about creating solid habits for language learning.

Learning a new language is fun and a big task. The best way to learn is to make it part of your everyday life. We do this by creating simple habits. You can choose different activities based on what you like and your goals. If you keep doing these things every day, you’ll get better.

Understanding Learning Habits

James Clear, who wrote “Atomic Habits,” says habits have four parts: the trigger, the desire, the response, and the reward. First, there’s something that starts the habit (the trigger). Then, you want to do the habit (the desire). Next, you actually do the habit (the response). Finally, you feel good after doing it (the reward).

This idea is perfect for learning languages. The start could be seeing your notebook. The want is to learn a new word. The doing is practicing the word. The good feeling is being able to use that word when talking to someone. When we do this often, learning becomes easier and a normal part of our lives.

Creating New Learning Habits

You can start new habits any time, like now in November, or in December or January. Let’s say you want to learn piano. You could decide to practice every evening at 8 PM. You want to play a piece, like “Moonlight Sonata.” You practice for 20 minutes, and then, as a reward, play an easy song you like and enjoy.

It’s important to make a plan that suits you. Everyone is different. Some might like to learn in the morning, others at night. The key is to pick a time and stick to it. This makes learning a regular part of your day. If it’s hard, try to at least commit to practicing every day, even if the time changes.

Balancing Book Learning and Doing

Learning isn’t just about doing. It’s also about thinking and reading. For languages, you need to know the rules and then use them. You could read a book at night and then use what you learn the next day. This way, you understand the language better.

This balance is really important. Knowing the rules is good, but using them is how you learn. Try to do both, so you get really good at the language. For example, after studying grammar, try writing a short story or record a selfie video speaking off the cuff using the new rules. This makes what you learned stronger.

Another good way is to mix learning types. Like watching a movie in the new language and reading subtitles. This way, you hear the language and see the words. It’s a fun and effective way to learn. You get audio, visual aids, and text, all in one media. This is great for beginners, but can be useful even for intermediates and advanced learners.

Sticking to Your Learning Habits

Sometimes it’s hard to keep learning. You might not feel like it. But remember why you started. Maybe it’s to talk to friends, travel, or to keep you mentally fit. Remember these reasons to help you keep going. Also, try to practice a little every day. Even a little bit can help you learn a lot over time.

Staying motivated is hard, but remember the good things and progress you’ve made. Look at how much you’ve learned to help you keep going. Celebrate small wins like understanding a new phrase or completing a podcast episode. These little things can make you want to learn more.

Also, change your routine sometimes. If you always learn the same way, it can get boring. Try learning in a new place or with a new method, like a game. This can make learning more fun.

Keeping Your Habits Going

Once you have a habit, the next step is to keep it going. Practice every day. Write about what you’re learning. This shows you how much you’ve learned. Also, use your new language in your life. Talk to friends or watch shows in that language. This makes learning more fun and helps you get better faster.

To keep your habits, get extra help from someone to help you. Try working together with a language coach to create a learning plan suited to your needs. A coach will also help you stay on track over time and make the most out of your daily learning sessions with your target language.

Conclusion

As the year ends, let’s remember how important habits are for learning. By making learning a regular part of our lives, we can learn a lot and have fun. Let’s keep learning in a fun way, not just now, but always. Remember: learning never really ends. Each new thing we learn opens the door to more. Keep exploring and enjoy every new thing you learn 😊.

Originally published at https://www.walterfreiberg.com.

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Walter Freiberg

Language coach - I learn things and I help others how to learn better — walterfreiberg.com